Real Madrid’s solution to the current crisis is the man whose departure led to it.
The club announced the hiring of Zinedine Zidane as manager on Monday, and also the sacking of Santiago Solari.
Zidane and the club have agreed to a deal that will keep him at the Bernabeu through 2022. Spanish national newspaper Marca first reported that the move was going to be made .
Nearly 10 months after he resigned, Zidane returns to a club in disarray. The sale of Cristiano Ronaldo over the summer and the aging stars left in the squad have resulted in trophy-less campaign that included three El Clasico losses to Barcelona and a humiliating Champions League exit at the hands of Ajax.
That’s not the club Zidane left behind. Real Madrid won three straight European crowns under his guidance from 2016-18, the first such feat in the competition’s modern era, and also La Liga in 2017.
Zidane resigned in late May citing a need for change with both him and the club. Real Madrid ended up hiring Spain national team coach Julen Lopetegui and sacked him barely four months later.
Solari has managed the club in the interim and guided it back into the top three of La Liga. But the Ajax embarrassment seems to have been the last straw.
The only silverware still on offer for Real Madrid is the league, and Barcelona holds a 12-point advantage in the table with 11 matches to play, so it would take an epic collapse by the club’s biggest, bitterest rival.
The club had been hoping to delay any decision until the end of the season, and had aspirations of bringing in Jurgen Klopp or Mauricio Pochettino, but the difficulties of securing both as well as the nature of a hugely disappointing season has seen Zidane move.
The club want to again bring in a “galactico” this summer for the first time since 2014, and maybe even three such stars.
Neymar has been a long-term target but so are Tottenham Hotspur’s Christian Eriksen, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Neymar’s Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Kylian Mbappe.
There are plans to spend over £300 million this summer, while bringing in money from significant sales, with Gareth Bale and Luka Modric among those expected to leave.
It is understood the issue of overhauling the squad was key in discussions between Perez and Zidane, with the president realising the need to make serious “concessions” in order to bring his star manager back.
The move will have further-reaching implications for England, since it will now mean Madrid do not move for either Pochettino or Klopp, while Jose Mourinho will not return to a job he had been mooted for.
There is understood to have been too much difference of opinion within the club over re-appointing the Portuguese.
Credit: Yahoo Sports & The Telegraph